2012 SkS Bi-Weekly News Roundup #10

This is a  twice weekly roundup of selected news articles and blog posts about climate change and its impacts. Readers are encouraged to comment on the posted articles and to provide links to other articles of importance.

An Odometer Moment

For those who might be keeping score, we just passed the 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th-century average.

An Odometer Moment on a Warming Planet by Justin Gillis, Green Blog, New York Times, Dec 17, 2012 

At the Edge of the Carbon Cliff

The most important number in history is now the annual measure of carbon emissions. That number reveals humanity’s steady billion-tonne by billion-tonne march to the edge of the carbon cliff, beyond which scientists warn lies a fateful fall to catastrophic climate change. 

At the Edge of the Carbon Cliff by Stephen Leahy, International Press Service (IPS),  Dec 17, 2012

Carbon Capture Competition: EU 

The first round of a European commission contest to fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects failed to find a winner, the EU's executive said on Tuesday, deepening concerns that the technology will not be emerging soon to help cut emissions.

EU declares no winner in carbon capture competition, Reuters/The Guardian (UK), Dec 18, 2012 

Carbon Capture Needed in UK

Last week the (British) prime minister laid out the importance of carbon capture and storage to the setting of a 2030 carbon target, and in helping resolve the current debate on how much gas in the UK it is safe to burn. Just a month earlier, a report concluded that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could cut the annual costs of meeting our carbon targets by up to 1% of GDP, or about £42bn per year, by 2050.

Let's learn to love carbon capture, before it's too late, Op-ed by James Smith, the Guardian (UK), Dec 17, 2012

Coal Consumption Booms

In a report destined to frustrate advocates for global action on climate change, the Paris-based International Energy Agency projected Tuesday morning that in five years' time, the amount of coal burned around the globe every year will increase by an additional 1.2 billion metric tons -- an amount roughly equivalent to the current annual coal consumption of the U.S. and Russia combined.

Coal Consumption Booms Amid Rising Climate Concerns: IEA Coal Report 2012 by Tom Zeller Jr., The Huffington Post, Dec 18, 2012

Draft IPCC Report Misconstrued

The I.P.C.C. has won accolades over the years, most notably the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. But the reports have also become political lightning rods. Climate-change contrarians, though they publish very little in the relevant scientific literature, use the Internet to mount persistent attacks on the I.P.C.C. Being a human enterprise, the I.P.C.C. has certainly made mistakes, and these get magnified by people attempting to generate doubt about the overall body of climate science.

A Contrarian Spin on the Next Big Climate Report by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Dec 14, 2012

Impacts: Drought in the US

Drought continued to expand through many key farming states within the central United States in the past week, as scattered rainfall failed to replenish parched soils, according to a report issued Thursday by state and federal climatology experts.

U.S. Drought Expands In Kansas, Oklahoma And Texas by Carey Gillam, Reuters/The Huffington Post, Dec 13, 2012

Impacts: Wildfires in the US

Warmer and drier conditions in coming decades will likely cause the burned area from wildfires in the U.S. to double in size by 2050, according to new research based on satellite observations and computer modeling experiments. The research, which was first presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on Dec. 4, provides insight into both recent wildfire trends and the sharp increase in dryness — and therefore wildfire susceptibility — in certain regions of the country.

Area Burned By U.S. Wildfires Expected to Double by 2050 by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Dec 14, 2012

Insurance Industry Responds to Climate Change

Paying out billions of dollars here and billions of dollars there has made the global insurance industry a believer in climate change, according to a new study that shows insurance companies are staunch advocates for reducing carbon emissions and minimizing the risk posed by increasingly severe weather events.

Climate change taken seriously by insurance industry, study says by Kenneth R. Weiss. Los Angeles Times, Dec 14, 2012

International Agreement Needed

The results of the United Nations climate change conference that closed in Doha, Qatar, last Saturday show once again that the international negotiations are moving steadily in the right direction, but alarmingly slow.

At the heart of these negotiations is nothing less than the most challenging energy transformation the world has ever seen. Past energy transitions have taken a long time to unfold.

OP-ED: A Universal Climate Change Agreement Is Necessary and Possible by Christiana Figueres, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 14, 2012

Relections on Doha 

Expectations were low for this year’s UNFCCC climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar (COP 18), which concluded last week. It was scheduled to be a “finalize-the-rules” type of COP, rather than one focused on large, political deals that went into the early hours of the morning. Key issues on the table included finalizing the rules for the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period; concluding a series of decisions on transparency, finance, adaptation, and forests (REDD+); and agreeing on a work plan to negotiate a new legally binding international climate agreement by 2015. The emissions gap was also front-and-center, as the new UNEP Gap Report showed that countries are further away than even a year ago from the goal of keeping global average temperature rise below two degrees C. 

In the end, countries were successful in making progress, but only incrementally. The lack of political will was breathtaking, particularly in light of recent extreme weather events.

Reflections on COP 18 in Doha: Negotiators Made Only Incremental Progress by Jennifer Morgan, WRI Insights, Dec 14, 2012

Underestimating the Costs of Climate Change 

The New York Times recently printed a story describing how the sewage systems of New York and New Jersey were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy:

"Hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage from crippled treatment plants have flowed into waterways in New York and New Jersey, exposing flaws in the region's wastewater infrastructure that could take several years and billions of dollars to fix."

Sandy and Sewage: Why We Underestimate the Costs of Climate Change by Andrew Guzman, The Huffington Post, Dec 17, 2012

Unlocking Climate Finance

The Doha negotiations that just concluded earlier this month have again drawn attention to the urgent need for climate adaptation and emissions reductions. Government representatives, civil society stakeholders, development aid organizations, and corporates agree that the world must make big strides—soon—if we are to have any hope of keeping global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

One problem, though, is how to generate enough finance to fund these activities. A new WRI working paper aims to address this challenge by examining the role multilateral agencies can play in mobilizing private sector finance for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Unlocking Climate Finance: How Can Multilateral Agencies Better Leverage the Private Sector? by Aman Srivastava and Shilpa Patel, WRI Insights, Dec 17, 2012 

Posted by John Hartz on Thursday, 20 December, 2012

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